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Avian Pathol. 2010 Oct;39(5):375-82. doi: 10.1080/03079457.2010.513376.

A proof-of-principle study to identify suitable vaccine seed candidates to combat introductions of Eurasian lineage H5 and H7 subtype avian influenza viruses.

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OIE/FAO and National Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza and Newcastle Disease, OIE Collaborating Centre for Diseases at the Human-Animal Interface and for Epidemiology Training and Control of Emerging Avian Diseases, Legnaro, Padova, Italy.


Vaccination against avian influenza (AI) is now included amongst the prevention and control measures recommended by international animal health organizations to combat the disease in poultry. For optimal control of human influenza infections, the antigenic variability within subtypes requires the annual update of seed strains for inclusion in vaccines. The decisions taken are based on serological cross-reactivity of viral strains measured by haemagglutination inhibition (HI) tests. The reason for this is to ensure that the vaccine contains strains that are related antigenically to the current circulating field strain as field viruses evolve or are substituted by variants of distinct antigenicity. Such an annual approach is not viable economically for the poultry industry. In the current study, we have applied a similar HI-based approach to demonstrate, as proof of principle, that cross-reactive strains can be identified. Applying the same approach used by the World Health Organization to investigate antigenic differences among human influenza viruses, we assessed the serological cross-reactivity of a selection of natural H5 and H7 subtype viruses. Analysing HI data, we have identified strains that are cross-reactive and may have the potential to act as seed viruses for future vaccine development. This study should be considered a starting point for a more informed approach to the selection of seed strains for the development of avian influenza vaccines against field infections caused by viruses of H5 and H7 subtypes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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